By Nathan Jones
Who were some of the false prophets during Jesus' time, and today?
I was recently interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we'll look at the very first sign Jesus gave in Matthew 24 which tells us that we are living in the end times — the sign of false teachers.
False Prophets of the First Century
Vic: All the deception of false christs and false doctrines are leading us towards the ultimate deceiver of all times, the one who is spoken of in 2 Thessalonians, right?
Nathan: Yes, the False Prophet of the Tribulation is the ultimate fulfillment of the end times sign of false teachers. He actually is the answer to the third question about the signs the world will witness before Jesus' Second Coming.
Sure, there have always been false prophets and false teachers. You can go back to Acts 5:37 and read about a man named Josephus, who was a historian at that time. He wrote in one of his book Wars of the time about this man named Judah the Galilean. This was about 10 years before the birth of Jesus. Judah the Galilean told all the Jews that it was shameful of them to be consenting to pay tribute to the Romans and tolerating mortal masters after having God for their Lord. Judah even had this false priest named Saddok, and his priest went around telling people that he was the Elijah who was proceeding the coming of the Messiah. Judah and Saddok founded a group which you will probably recognize, called the Zealots.
Which famous apostle was a former zealot? That would be Simon the Zealot. Simon was part of this cult, but he was saved out of it. That would be like a radical Islamic jihadist getting saved today and becoming a Christian.
So, there were these false prophets at that time period. Satan knew that he had to try and confuse people when Jesus came, so he put in place all these false prophets and false teachers so people wouldn't recognize the Messiah when He came.
Also, Josephus wrote in his book Antiquities about a man named Theudas. He came about 12 years after Jesus' death. This man named Theudas came and told everyone to take up their possessions and follow him to the Jordan River. When they got to the Jordan River, they would know that he was the messiah because he would part the waters and the people would cross over. Well, they got to the Jordan River, and obviously the waters did not part. Just as Deuteronomy 18 said, you can't believe these people because their prophecies are false. A lot of Theudas' followers were killed.
Vic: We also have so many modern-day false prophets. They carry the self-proclaimed title of prophet and claim they're supposed to be doing signs in the name of Jesus Christ, but 90%+ of the things they claim don't ever come true, and yet people still continue to follow them.
Nathan: Go to watchmen.org, that's James Walker's website. James was a Mormon who got saved out of Mormonism and since has dedicated his life to helping people escape the teachings of false teachers and false christs. His website reports that there are 1,200 religious organizations in the world, and 500 cults just here in the USA alone. That's 500 cults!
Satan is working so hard now as the end times draw closer. He's trying everything he can to water down the Gospel.
False Prophets Deceiving Today
Vic: People don't understand that these religions like the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons who supposedly teach about Jesus, they are not teaching about the real Jesus of the Bible, right?
Nathan: That's right. Take Joseph Smith for instance. Back in 1830, he founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, also known as the Mormons. It's the world's largest cult as there are about 5 million members today. Smith went around teaching that Jesus is the brother of Satan and that we'll all become gods one day. We will all have our own planets. Our wives will populate our own planet. Get this, our wives will populate an entire planet, being pregnant for all of eternity. Just tell your wife that! That's what they are looking forward to.
Can you believe Mormonism has grown to five million members today? Joseph Smith was a known conman at the time period, and yet even today people still follow his teachings.
One of the signs of false teachers and false christs is they usually say that God revealed something to them and them alone. Joseph Smith said that the angel Moroni came to him and gave him golden tablets which held God's messages. There was nobody to verify his claim, of course.
The story behind Mormonism is the same as Islam with Muhammad back in 600 AD. He said that the angel Gabriel came and visited him with a message from God. He was told that only Allah is to be worshiped out of the 360 gods of Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. Very convenient, Muhammad's family god was already Allah, which happened to be the moon god. Muhammad went and told his family in Mecca, but no one believed him, that is until he had an army standing behind him. Then they are like, "Sure, we believe you!"
These false witnesses come out of nowhere and claim that God has talked to them, though I'm sure that a demon was really talking to them. Then they go around pretending to be either a prophet of God like Muhammad or they claim to be Jesus Christ himself.
As a matter of fact, there was one guy who was very popular in recent history. His name was Jim Jones. He founded the People's Temple Christian Church. Jones claimed to be God, Buddha and Lennon all rolled up into one. Back in 1978, he took his followers down to Jonestown, Guyana. There were over 914 of them there. They decided to commit mass suicide. They took Kool-Aid and poisoned it and then fed it to their people. After they'd drank it down, the entire group of people including Jim Jones were killed. Jim Jones was a false teacher who lead 914 people to their deaths.
Vic: Many people may be wondering if these false prophets are real in our day. You once shared with us a true story that anyone can Google and find out for themselves the truth.
Nathan: The most recent example of a false messiah is José De Luis De Jesús of Growing in Grace International. He goes as far as claiming to be Jesus himself. He actually goes around saying that he's Jesus Christ. He said back before June 30, 2012 that he would usher in his government of the 666 on that date. All his followers have 666 tattooed on them. Obviously, when the government of the 666 didn't get ushered in on June 30, 2012, his followers started to dwindle and he kind of disappeared from the scene after that. But, just like Deuteronomy 18 said, when a false Christ or false prophet gives a prophecy that doesn't come true, then you know they are false and you should have nothing to do with them.
Vic: I remember when José said that. He actually has a congregation here in the area of Miami which is maybe a half hour from where my church is. One of the things they were doing is having their congregation tattoo themselves with 666.
Nathan: Are they still functioning?
Vic: I'd need to double check, but I know he was moving back and forth from the ministry here to another ministry he had. It was a big deal in Miami. It so amazing how people's eyes were so shut. You would think that it would be so obvious that the guy was not Jesus when he said to put 666 on your body. You should know somethings wrong with that, right?
Nathan: Exactly! I've seen pictures on the Internet of teenage girls proudly showing off their wrists with 666 tattooed on them, as if that was a good thing.
Vic: When we talk about deception, we want people to understand that it's very real and it comes in many forms. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father but through me." But, these deceivers want people to think that there are other ways to salvation.
Nathan: Yes, it's either because they are demon possessed, or they are egomaniacs. They want the world to worship them. Isn't that exactly what Satan promised Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, that if they ate of the fruit they would be like God and they would become gods themselves? Godhood has always had an appeal with humanity. People love power, but it goes to their heads. We want to be worshiped as gods. It's in our sin nature.
Mankind needs to give up that desire to become a god, because there's only one true God, and that's God the Father, Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ His Son, three in one. That's the God of the Bible — Jehovah God — He's the one true God.
In the fourth part of this discussion with Pastor Vic on the end times sign of false teachers, we'll continue to learn about the false teachers and messiahs of our own time.